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Aborted Harvard Raid Fails to Produce Paw

By Dan Cho


A large group of MIT students unsuccessfully attempted to recover the MIT mascot’s stolen paw Friday evening. Approximately 25 students participated in a botched raid on an empty Harvard dormitory room, which ended abruptly when one of the room’s inhabitants returned.

The excursion was organized by Rhett Creighton ’02, who announced it through e-mail sent to several dormitory mailing lists. Creighton bid students to take back the foot of the beaver costume that he said was stolen by an unknown male in Harvard Square on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17.

The students gathered in front of Building 7 at 7:00 p.m. on Friday. Dressed like vigilantes in camouflage and face-paint, they sported enormous water guns and carried cardboard signs with defiant slogans.

The students traveled by bus to Harvard Square. From there, they walked to Holworthy Hall, where the paw was allegedly being kept.

Although Creighton said at the time of the raid that he did not know the name of the Harvard student or the alleged thief’s exact room number, Creighton was given directions to the room by another MIT student who said she had met the paw’s thief in Harvard Square.

Once the crowd arrived at Holworthy, a student later identified as Victor W. Brar ’04 removed the first-floor window screen and climbed into the targeted room. Brar then opened the door so the others could enter.

The MIT students searched the room for approximately one minute before they were confronted by Paul Gilligan, a freshman resident of the dormitory room.

Posse flees from freshman wrath

Gilligan, who was nearby and witnessed the entire scene outside his room, said he was “a little upset and confused” by the student’s actions.

“I was just standing over there, trying to get a lemonade and I see my screen get kicked open,” Gilligan said. “I was kind of pissed off.”

Gilligan demanded that the MIT students leave the room immediately. Creighton, in turn, demanded the return of the paw, which the students were unable to find in the room. After arguing with the Harvard freshman for several moments, the MIT students filed out of the room and back into Harvard Yard.

No one reported seeing the paw in the room.

Panic seizes raiders

While milling about in Harvard Yard, the students became nervous when a Harvard campus police car stopped nearby. The students dispersed, fleeing in separate directions.

Gilligan said that he did not phone the police.

The driver of the police car was observed giving directions to a pedestrian before continuing on his route.

Student loses paw, MIT loses face

The foot from the Tim the Beaver costume was lost on Saint Patrick’s Day by a group of MIT students cavorting in Harvard Square. An unknown male stole the foot after Amal K. Dorai ’04, who was wearing the suit, removed the costume’s hands and feet to climb a statue of John Harvard and left the paws unguarded on the ground.

Because the Campus Activities Complex had already purchased a new set of paws for the mascot, retrieval of the paw would not have saved the $650 fine which the CAC charged to Dorai and the 2004 Ring Committee.

“This is not about anything practical or cost-effective,” Creighton wrote in one of his rallying messages. “This is not about doing right where a wrong has been done. This is about exercising some irrational school spirit.”

Gilligan asserts innocence

Gilligan lives in a suite with seven other Harvard freshman. Though he had heard about the theft of the beaver paw, Gilligan said the paw was not in his possession.

Creighton, however, suspects that Gilligan or one of his roommates took the paw. “He obviously knew something about it because anybody else would have probably spazzed more,” Creighton said.

Paw hunt over for now

Creighton said the Harvard excursion failed because the alleged thieves did not display the paw openly in their room, as he had hoped.

“We didn’t have anything to charge up the people, Creighton said. “If he had just had it hanging on his wall, obviously we would have gotten it.”

Alfred C. Ashford ’04, who participated in the recovery attempt, attributed the group’s failure to “traitors in our midst.”

Creighton said he has “no other plans” to reclaim the beaver paw.

Gilligan, however, said he would not be surprised to see the MIT students return to look for the paw. “I guess I’ll just live my life in fear,” Gilligan said.